Build Change Partners with Degenkolb Engineers to Support Haitian Government in Rebuilding Efforts

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October 12, 2011
For Immediate Release:

Press Contacts:


Build Change - Haiti

Kathleen Jeanty

Director of Communications & Outreach

P: 011-509-3702-3349



Degenkolb Engineers

Alethea O'Dell

Press Contact

Build Change Partners with Degenkolb Engineers to Support Haitian Government in Rebuilding Efforts


Partnership Resulted in 58 Government Engineers Trained and Various Structural Engineering Design Resources Developed


Port-au-Prince, Haiti.--(10/12/2011) -- Build Change, the international non-profit social enterprise that designs earthquake-resistant houses in developing countries, has partnered with Degenkolb Engineers, a leading structural design engineering firm, to provide technical assistance and training services to the Government of Haiti (GoH) following the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake.


Build Change and Degenkolb have been working with the Haitian Ministry of Public Works, Transport & Communications (MTPTC) to help increase its capacity to rebuild after the 7.0 earthquake left over 200,000 dead, displaced over 1 million residents, and destroyed over 80% the country's main capital of Port-Au-Prince and its surrounding towns.


"When the news hit of the sheer devastation caused by this terrible disaster, our hearts went out to the people of Haiti," says Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, Build Change's Founder and CEO. "We had to do our part to help ensure that the Haitian people never experience this massive amount of losses in future earthquakes." Given Build Change's expertise designing earthquake-resistant houses and training builders, homeowners, engineers, and government officials to build them in Indonesia and China following devastating earthquakes in those countries, the organization was well-poised to respond to this tragedy.


After an initial feasibility study as to why so many buildings collapsed, Build Change signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with MTPTC, agreeing to provide them with technical assistance, training services, culturally-appropriate para-seismic building codes, as well as inspection check list systems that work for a government constrained by insufficient infrastructure, budget, time and skilled personnel.


To help develop these systems and technical resources, Build Change partnered with seismic structural engineering firm, Degenkolb Engineers, who has extensive expertise in the seismic performance of masonry structures, and is ideally suited to the challenge of how to assess existing concrete masonry construction that is of questionable quality with little or no reinforcement. Build Change is working very closely with Mark Sinclair, a Principal in Degenkolb's New Technologies Group, to support MTPTC.


According to Sinclair, "The fastest way to get the Haitian people back into housing is to repair and retrofit the existing building stock, especially the Yellow and Red tagged buildings. This eliminates many of the headaches associated with building new construction such as demolition and debris removal, land and home ownership uncertainty, and questionable reconstruction strategies."


So far, the Build Change/Degenkolb/MTPTC partnership has produced:  

  • A rapid seismic evaluation and retrofit procedure with construction details suitable for typical Haitian low-rise masonry construction.
  • Extensive, detailed input on the Yellow House Repair Guideline, a tool used to repair houses deemed by the GoH as damaged, but repairable.
  • Structural engineering design resources for MTPTC, such as design drawings, design rules, bills of quantity, cost estimates and construction quality checklists for the four common construction systems used in Haiti: reinforced concrete, confined masonry, reinforced masonry, timber frame, and retrofitting solutions.
  • Training of 58 MTPTC engineers in evaluation and retrofit solutions, done in partnership with UNOPS.
  • Completion of the design of a full scale wall testing facility whereby MTPTC engineers can evaluate the performance of typical construction, and demonstrate the efficacy of improved designs and retrofit techniques.

Dr. Hausler is pleased with what Build Change has been able to accomplish with Degenkolb's support and concludes that "Build Change will continue to work with Degenkolb to help strengthen MTPTC's capacity and help GoH rebuild its country".




Established in 1940, Degenkolb Engineers is one of the nation's leading structural engineering firms in the design and seismic strengthening of buildings. Degenkolb offers comprehensive design, rehabilitation, and consulting services to architects, building owners, hospitals, educational institutions, corporations and government agencies. The firm has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Portland and Seattle. Degenkolb routinely leverages firm-wide experience, calling on support from any of its six U.S. offices to ensure technical excellence on all projects.





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Founded in 2004, Build Change is an international non-profit social enterprise that designs earthquake-resistant houses in developing countries and trains builders, homeowners, engineers, and government officials to build them.  


The organization works in partnership with the public and private sector to leave in place lasting change in construction practice after earthquakes.


Since its founding, Build Change has improved the design of over 18,000 houses and trained over 12,000 people in the fundamentals of earthquake-resistant construction for single-family homes, including builders, technical high school students and teachers in Indonesia, China and Haiti.  


Today, over 70,000 people worldwide are living in safer houses because of Build Change's work.  


To learn more, visit